Bringing your new baby home from the hospital is a major milestone. There’s plenty of advice out there on the basics you need and how to be prepared. The truth is you can never be truly prepared, and you don’t need everything all at once. Here are the essentials.
1. An approved car seat.
Hospitals won’t let you leave with the baby if you don’t have an appropriate car seat—it’s the law. You have many options: infant-only seats, 3-in-1 seats and convertible seats. Infant car seats need to be rear-facing because it’s the safest position in a crash. Car seat safety experts recommend keeping children rear-facing for as long as possible. Use extreme caution with used car seats: car seats can’t be used again after a crash and models are often recalled.
2. An appropriate place to sleep.
The safest place your baby to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. It doesn’t matter if you choose a crib or a bassinet. Just choose a safe bed that hasn’t been recalled and is free from soft, fluffy crib bedding and stuffed toys that can suffocate your newborn.
3. Tools to help feed the baby.
If you choose to breastfeed, you won’t need much in the way of supplies. Nursing bras and a nursing pillow are nice conveniences. If you’re bottle-feeding, you’ll need bottles, nipples and formula. Make sure to check the expiration dates on formula. Regardless of how you choose to feed your baby, you’ll also want to have burp cloths on hand!
4. Diapering supplies.
Note that your baby’s birth weight could vary quite a bit, so you may want to have newborn and size-one diapers available. You’ll also want to have diaper wipes and baby ointment or rash cream in case of diaper rash.
5. Clothing and blankets in a variety of sizes and types.
New babies need several changes of clothing every day, thanks to spitting up and diaper blowouts. Recommended items include a few of each of the following:
- Short- and long-sleeved onesies
- Nightgowns for use until the umbilical cord falls off
- One-piece sleepers—choose ones with zippers to save yourself time and effort!
- Socks or booties
- Scratch mittens (so baby doesn’t scratch his face with his new little nails)
- A snowsuit (depending on climate and when baby will be born)
- Receiving blankets
- Heavier baby blankets
- Dressier outfits (optional, but nice to have)
6. Bathing supplies.
You can bathe baby in the kitchen sink with careful supervision, but most parents find it convenient to have a designated plastic infant tub. You’ll also want to have baby washcloths, hooded towels and baby-safe products. Baby shampoo and lotion will keep your little one clean and comfortable.
7. Medical care supplies.
You’ll need the basics of infant medical-care supplies on hand.
- A bulb syringe will help suction out mucous.
- Baby scissors or nail clippers will prevent your little one from scratching his or her face.
- An eyedropper or syringe and medicine, such as anti-gas drops and acetaminophen, may be helpful.
- You’ll also want to have a dependable thermometer on hand, like the Kinsa smart thermometer, to keep track of your baby’s temperature and symptoms so you can respond quickly if he or she is sick.
Bringing your baby home is an exciting time. You’ll find that your baby needs only a few essentials to start out with, including lots of your love.
This post was written by Holly Case, a mom of three boys who lives in Texas. Learning how to care for her own kids was the start of a career in writing about parenting and health.